Utah Grizzlies forward Jon Puskar recorded the first hat trick of his career, leading the hosts to a 6-2 victory against the Wichita Thunder on Wednesday night at the Maverik Center.
The win in front of more than 3,500 fans keeps the Grizzlies seven points behind Alaska for fourth place in the Mountain Division.
Utah, with 40 points this season, is four points behind Quad City for eighth place in the Western Conference.
"It feels great because it's something I've never done in my professional career and it's exciting to happen," Puskar said. "But I owe it to my teammates. We've got a great group of guys and we're confident. Good things are clicking for us right now and whatever situation comes, good or bad, we roll with it."
A big second period was the key for the Grizzlies, who led 1-0 after the first period on a Ralph Cuddemi goal.
After Wichita tied the game in the second period, Utah scored four times in the final 10 minutes before the second intermission. Puskar scored the first two goals of Utah's period, then Cuddemi scored his second goal of the night. Michael Pelech's 10th goal of the season and first in the game gave the Grizzlies an eventual 5-2 lead going into the third period.
"We've got a lot of talent up front and I'm fortunate to be behind the bench and be confident with any of the guys I put on the ice," Grizzlies coach Tim Branham said. "Our boys are playing great and they're buying into the system and they didn't let up the entire game."
Puskar achieved the hat trick at the 15:16 mark of the third period, causing a scattering of hats to shower down upon the ice as Puskar was treated to an ovation.
Ryan Faragher got the win in goal for the Grizzlies, making 18 saves. Austen Brassard had two assists for Utah, which has won two games in a row and six of its past 10.